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AthleteIamA Lucha Underground Wrestler Marty The Moth - Martin Casaus AMA!

Mar 20th 2017 by MartinCasaus • 40 Questions • 2035 Points

I am a federal budget analyst. My focus is macro fiscal policy, including the main drivers of spending and revenue, deficits, and debt. I am happy to talk about the Trump skinny budget, and I am happy to talk about the American Health Care Act, though I'm not a health policy expert. The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of my place of employment.

Q:

Is there any advice Joey Ryan has given you on either wrestling or baby oil that has proven invaluable in your career?

A:

Thanks for the great response. Why don't we (the government or people who can) close the fiscal gap then?


Q:

The only advice I got was to use baby oil....Lots of baby oil. I havent quite added that to my arsenal yet. Should the moth use baby oil? He did help me get thet bkue check on Twitter too

Oh and he also said to put my pro wrestling tees store link on everything. lol. That man sells ALOT of shirts. Oh and by the way... www.prowrestlingtees.com/martincasaus

Thanks Joey :)

A:

I just realized I didn't give a good enough answer on this. Sorry about that. The reason we don't is that we can't agree, and there's still a long way to go to get there. Republicans don't want to do tax increases. Democrats don't want to do significant cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid (the parts that are actually growing). So, that leaves us at a longer-term impasse.

But, all the stuff I said about the progress is still true.


Q:

Ever thought of doing a mathematican character and being Marty the Math?

A:

Isn't LIHEAP proposed for either drastic reductions or total elimination every year?


Q:

Didnt Matt Stiker do the teacher gimmick? I play dumb but I would have graduated with a 4.0 GPA in college, if it wasnt for accounting!!!! I loathe math!!!! sooooooo nope never

A:

Obama's final year called for a reduction, but his first years called for large increases. Bush 43's first budget called for an 18% reduction. That's pretty drastic, but not in the realm of complete elimination. Budgets before FY1996 are not online, and Bush 41 and Reagan were before my time, so I couldn't answer that.


Q:

How did it feel going from the Tough Enough ring, especially with the way you left, to LU? Did you fear people would just typecast you as the TE guy?

Also, I just wanted to say you were my pick for TE and I was pretty gutted to see you go. On the plus side, it also gave me a chance to see Marty as a character so.....

A:

What's a step that Americans on both sides of the aisle would agree to that would help balance the budget?


Q:

Why thank you. I was pretty gutted and... literally broken leaving the way I did as well. It actually felt great going to the Lucha Underground ring after TE. The first day I got to the Temple, you could feel the excitement and also the feeling that we didnt know what Lucha Undeground was going to be but we wanted it to be special. So everyone was supportive, nice, and helping each other. It felt like a family the 1st day at the Temple and still feels the same today which is why I love it. I wasnt worried about being typecasted as I had 2 other TE alums with me and the EV Eric Vanwagnen on the show as well. Plus i wanted to make a statement anyway at Lucha and whatever that statement was I would hope over shadowed TE....enter the Moth

A:

Great question. The answer is that most of the low-hanging fruit is used in deals. There just aren't trillions of dollars for things that each side says is fine. In order to get to a place, one side needs to have the ability to exert its will, or each side needs to be willing to do stuff it doesn't like. One of the biggest issues with growing polarization is that agreeing to the stuff you don't like is a much bigger deal. Bush 41 increased taxes. When's that happening again? For the Joint Select Committee of Deficit Reduction, Paul Ryan was one of the Republicans appointed. Not a chance in the world that he was going to accept big tax increases. Chris Van Hollen was there on the other side. Not a chance he was going to go for major Medicaid cuts.


Q:

Hi Marty. You're one of my favourite wrestlers, I love your match vs. Killshot. My question is what's your recommendation for an amateur wrestler or someone that want to learn this? And what's your favorite music band?

A:

What are some of the more surprising things that the average American wouldn't know about major spending / how the government pays for things?


Q:

Awesome. I loved that match. Shane Stickland (killshot) is one hell of a worker. My recommendation for people wanting to get into wrestling would be to find the BEST PRO wrestling school you can find, and OUT WORK and OUT STUDY every person there!! Id go with the most reputable schools that have track records for getting people to success. I listen to literally everything. I was listening last night to movie soundtracks like Man of Steel and of coarse Disney. This morning, I had Avenged Sevenfold on and even old 90's boy bands like Backstreet boys and Nsync. So like I said a bit of everything lol #noshame

A:

I think that humans generally don't deal with percentages or multiplication well. And so even if we know how much things "should" cost (questionable), I don't think anyone intuits the multiplication of that across the population. So, when people hear, "The budget is $4 trillion," that sounds crazy. But when I tell you that Social Security and health care make up half of that, it's a little less crazy. In truth, I think humans (myself included) are bad at estimating everything until they're forced to make percentages add to 100. That's how people can think that foreign aid is 28% of the budget, when it reality it's (depending on whom you ask - this is an impossible question because the classification of what's really foreign aid is too murky) is anywhere between like 0.2% and 2%.

I'd check this out: http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/policy-basics-where-do-our-federal-tax-dollars-go


Q:

You say should like a bit of everything but what about country?

A:

So all those memes are way off?


Q:

I LOVE COUNTRY!!!

A:

Which memes? Are you talking about the ones showing defense at over 50% of spending?


Q:

Marty any truth to the rumor that you were originally going to play Mil Muertes?

A:

Exactly. If your figures are correct myself and many liberals have been duped. I'm way less attached to being right than the truth. I'm so sick of the twisted misinformation.


Q:

Very much truth. I didnt know it until you guys learned it but Chris Dejoseph (one of the brilliant minds behind LU) told me himself that that was the original plan. I'm pretty glad how things worked out

A:

The figures I linked to are correct. The image you see floating around is from the National Priorities Project. The percentages are correct, but they represent funding for only what's called the "discretionary" part of the budget - that which Congress actively debates each year through the annual appropriations process, rather than programs where the funding has already been agreed upon. The discretionary part of the budget is only about one-third of all spending.

The two categories are discretionary and mandatory. On the mandatory side is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps (that's another thing typically wrong the graph - it mentions food stamps, but it shows something hitting WIC), school lunches, unemployment insurance, some retirement things, and whatnot. On the discretionary side is most of what we think about when we think of government programs. It's WIC. It's Section 8. It's NASA. It's NIH. It's the National Science Foundation. It's funding the arts and humanities. It's all the tiny things that get a little big of government help. And, because of Article I, Section 8, Clause 12 of the Constitution, that's where our military budget lives. The founders were very wary of standing armies, but of course it doesn't make sense to have a non-professional army.

At any rate, it is correct that the military is over half of what Congress approves every year, but I consider it deeply misleading, and I mention it whenever I see my friends share that graph on Facebook. It's true that we aren't debating Social Security and Medicare, and so the military is getting half of what we're debating, but the whole question is "what does XX say about our priorities," and current spending on mandatory programs need to be part of that question.

I similarly don't like the statistic "we're spending more than the next XX countries combined!" Yeah, well, we're also bigger than the next XX countries combined. That would be like complaining that California is spending more on police than all of New England combined. Yeah, well, its economy is bigger than all of New England combined. The reason we're spending too much is not because of what France is doing. It's because we don't need to be ready to go to war with the entire world at a moment's notice. It's because the threats we face are not the kinds that would require major troop mobilization. So, don't get me wrong - I still think 16% is huge. I think spending 1/6 of your dollars on the military is a lot. But it's not half.

In general, if something feels crazy, you should see what a few fact checkers have to say. It might be true. Some really crazy things are true. But some have been slightly twisted.


Q:

Martin! I met you during one of those Latin Festivals here in Utah County like 10 years ago. You taught me and my friend how to take a back bump and then we helped you guys clean up the ring. Anyways, I've always wanted to know, up til now in your career, what's been your biggest "I can't believe I made it here" moment so far?

A:

Exactly. If your figures are correct myself and many liberals have been duped. I'm way less attached to being right than the truth. I'm so sick of the twisted misinformation.


Q:

I've had a few off the top of my head. 1)smashing cans of beers and pounding them live on WWE Monday night Raw with Stone Cold Steve Austin 2) Being paid to be at Wrestlemania 3) After the finish and standing ovation by the Lucha Underground believers after my Weapons of Mass Destructions match with KillShot --probably my favorite honestly

A:

This is all to say that there's currently a budget for travel and for protection, and it's not difficult to move around money to make it work. I promise you that this money was appropriated.


Q:

I heard there were a few ideas for what your character would be before settling on "The Moth" like being the original Mil Muertes and a magician. Do you think either of those two would have worked out as well as The Moth did?

A:

What is your personal opinion of the Trump budget, as presented yesterday?

E: added "personal"


Q:

I was originally going to be Mil Muertes and Marty the Magnificent before I we went the Moth route. You never know what could have happened but honestly I feel like the Moth character fits me better. I literally get to goof off, act, and essentially play around as the moth. That fits my personality far better than pretending to be a hard ass in Mil or do magic.

Easter Egg: You can see me on Netflix as the Marty the Magnificent character in episode 3 season 1 of Lucha Underground. Virtual high five for finding it

A:

I don't like it's priorities. We currently spend about 16% of our money on our military, and I don't think we need to spend more than that. If we want to spend more money on military, I don't think it should be at the expense of programs that keep people out of poverty.

That said, this was a very incomplete document. We'll get a lot more information in the bigger budget in May, and so we'll get a better sense of his priorities, which may look different by then.


Q:

I think I found Marty the Magnificent! Green and white tights with a green bowtie?

A:

Thanks for the reply!


Q:

Bingo!!! Virtual high five!

A:

Sure - hope you found it useful!


Q:

Martin, I absolutely love the Marty character and his relationship to Mariposa. Few questions, if you may:

  • How far would you like to take Marty/Mariposa's relationship? I honestly got majorly incestuous vibes toward her in season 2, almost like he's in love with her in a way and would do anything for her and she uses that to her advantage against potential enemies. Would that be a fair assessment?

  • How often has Melissa Santos told you to fuck off or some other slip of the tongue during her announcements and did she know beforehand you'd creep on her or was that something you did in character that stuck?

A:

I did. Just yesterday I was wondering what sorts of things budget analysts think when reading such an unusual budget. Turns out, in this case anyway, at least one of them thinks more or less what I thought (with far less swearing!).


Q:

Thank you for the love. I would like to take the relationship as far as I can take it to make compelling TV. The fun part of playing a persona like this is that peoples minds are usually darker then what we can show on TV. So if i hint at something and leave it to interpretation, the believers minds take it how they want it. People are usually sicker in their own heads than they put out to the world. So I just have to hint at few things and let the fans take it to where they want. Dont most siblings love each other and would do anything for them? A few simple actions that leave interpretation open can go a long way

-the second question is a fun one for me. Melissa Santos is one of the most professional people I know. Shes got beauty and brains. We did my first ring announcement as a trial to see how people react and because it worked so well and pissed so many people off, we had to keep it. Poor Melissa has zero clue what I'm going to do to her when she's announcing me. I have whispered the most random things in her ear to get her to bust up laughing or break character and shes SO GOOD, she never breaks!! I'll get her though! I assume it's a pretty hard task to deal with announcing my name and where im from, when I'm doing my Moth thing all over her every announcement. She'll break...one day....maybe

A:

Haha, well, this is my measured response the day after. Yesterday was a very long day with a lot of unhappiness. There are a lot of things I'm willing to compromise on. Food, shelter, and heating are not among them.


Q:

Who came up with the Marty The Moth character? And why are you so perfect at being creepy with Melissa?

A:

So is my impression correct that the GOP and WH are trying to sell this budget in terms of the 'trickle down' theory that tax cuts for the richest will result in job creation?


Q:

The brilliant minds of the writing staff of Lucha Underground, Chris Dejoseph, Matt Stohlman, and Chris Roach came up with the moth character. Add a flavor of the dark mind of Vampiro and me and a hint of what the believers reacted to = The formula of a crazy moth character

A:

We'll have a better answer to that when we see the bigger budget likely in May. This budget only had discretionary spending (about 1/3 of the budget), and it didn't have any tax policy.

That being said, President Trump has been pretty explicit about the fact that he believes his policies will lead to higher growth, which is the concept being supply-side economics - that there will be a change in the underlying supply of labor in response to changes in tax policy. His tax cuts he proposed on the campaign reflected that. So probably, but we will have to wait to be certain.


Q:

You can have one match with any other wrestler. Who would you want it to be against and what kind of match would you want (cage, iron Man, etc.)?

A:

Republicans have preached that reducing taxes will boost the economy and net tax revenue will remain the same. In you experience and analysis, have you found this to be true?


Q:

I would want my former WWE Tough Enough trainer Stone Cold Steve Austin as my match, anything goes. I hung my own belt up in Tough Enough so I can take it back down when I want too right? If I win, I get to keep that belt ;) .....it was a sick belt.

A:

Stealing from an answer in another place, the concept behind supply-side economics is that taxes are so high, that they disincentive work, and so, while cutting them loses revenue, it gains back at least some from increased work.

So, if your taxes are cut, you earn a little bit more per hour worked, so you might work more. But, on the flip side, you might decide that you can actually work less to get the same income, so you might work less. That's the concept, and the question is behind the income effect and the substitution effect.

It's tough because most people can't dial up or down their work. I have a salaried job. I can't go to my boss and say, "Hey, I'd like to work 5% more hours, so please pay me 5% more."

At some level, this is certainly true. If you went from 100% taxation to 90% taxation, you'd probably get more work. But from 39.6% to 35%? That's less clear, and there isn't evidence to support it. We certainly didn't have kick-ass growth during the Bush 43 era, and we certainly lost a lot of revenues. It might very well have been true for Kennedy going down to 70 percent. But that top tax rate was hitting so few people, it's hard to imagine it really had a large change. Again, it depends how many people are being affected, how much their incentives are changing, how much they're able to change their work, and how much they actually do.

Reagan's own budget group, in his final year, estimated that his first round of tax cuts cut revenues by 26%. Subsequently, he raised taxes by 14%, relative to that new base.

In truth, labor is not being supplied by prime-age folks at the rate we would expect, and it's unclear why. I don't believe it's exorbitant benefits because Europe does better than we do. Here's a very long report on the decline in prime-aged male workers: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/page/files/20160620_cea_primeage_male_lfp.pdf


Q:

Hey Marty! Sweet gimmick, love your LU stuff. Who's been your favorite person to work with so far in LU? Who would you like to work with in the future?

A:

Wow, that was much to read and I still contend that the author does not understand what happens in the shadow economy as he calls it. How does he count the legal immigrant that collects the check and distributes cash to the five undocumented immigrants that work under him. How does he count the crews I compete against for construction work that are completely off the books. Do you think the guys in the hood answered his survey honestly?

I have really enjoyed your explanations of fiscal policy. Thanks!


Q:

My favorite so far in LU would have to be Shane Stickland (Killshot). He's so talented and the world is about to find out just how much here this year if they havent already. As far as the future there are so many people i'd love to work with. Just for fun, I'd love a go with former TE contestant Matt Cross or Paul London

A:

I'm glad you read it! That's a great point, and I couldn't tell you. All I know is that the government uses advanced statistical methodology to try to estimate and account for non-response bias, but we obviously can't tell. There's frequently no natural experiment to see how well the methods did.

I couldn't really expound beyond this because this isn't my area - I just know that the author, Jason Furman, is incredibly highly respected (and Matt Damon's freshman year roommate in undergrad) and is a person who does all he can to make sure he's not biasing data through omission.

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!


Q:

Where can I buy an Aztec Pride t-shirt? What has been your favorite match of your career so far?

A:

How do you think the cuts will affect agencies like the National Parks Service and the U.S. Forest Service?


Q:

Lucha Underground has a Pro Wrestling Tees store where the #aztecpride shirts I wear are available.

http://www.prowrestlingtees.com/luchaunderground

My favorite match of my career so far hasnt happened yet.

A:

Well, for what it's worth, the budget will not pass. It's just an initial place the Trump administration is digging in for leverage. I still think it's hard to tell what they're going to do. Bush 43 more or less kept non-defense discretionary growing with inflation, and just boosted defense greatly.

I personally think that Democrats will shut down the government before letting the non-defense discretionary numbers go below what are called "sequestration levels" (the second caps, referenced in the first question above). But it's really tough to figure out political pressures.

Right now, the topline levels are essentially flat from FY(fiscal year) 2016 to 2017 to 2018, and that's on purpose. The two-year deal that boosted defense and non-defense for FY2016 and FY2017 gave more money in the first year than the second in order to create levels that would facilitate a future deal and make it harder to go below (Murray/Ryan did that as well): http://imgur.com/a/7j0D1

So, people who want more funding are in a good negotiating place for FY2018 funding (what Trump is proposing), but it will be harder in the future years because the blue bars will keep growing with inflation, and it's harder to get an increase than it is to keep something flat.


Q:

Best thing about being a part of the Lucha Underground roster?

A:

Wow, thanks for such a detailed response!


Q:

The Lucha Underground roster is family to me. Everyone is supportive and everyone wants success for everyone else in ring and out. Ya have to love going to "work" with that environment. Not a bad job in any case anyway eh?

A:

Sorry I didn't got into more detail about the two you asked, it's just that there are a lot of unknowns right now. If the topline levels are relatively flat, they might not see much cutting. It's just hard to say at this point. And the specific cuts won't come to pass in the coming year (unless the politics of the budget world change dramatically).


Q:

How was the "Marty the Moth" character pitched to you? Do you draw inspiration from any particular tv/movie character? Big fan of your work on Lucha Underground as I do a rewatch of it on Netflix.

A:

Do you think trickle-down economics works or would you have a middle-out approach that targets an increasing demand that leads to increasing supply?


Q:

It was pitched something like this "so were thinking of having you called Marty the Moth from the Moth tribe. Your essentially a big kid and who's not all there. Cool?". The flapping of the wings actually came as a joke since I was giving Melissa Santos crap during rehearsal and DeJoseph said something like "hey could you stand uncomfortably close to Melissa just like you were doing and flap your arms like a moth". Thats how it started and thanks to the minds of the LU writers and Vampiro the character evolved i think more then any character on the roster (from comedic relief guy to where it is today). I actually did alot of research into real life serial killers, especially those who had regular lives as well that you could run into during your day and have no clue he had bodies in the basement

A:

The concept behind supply-side economics is that taxes are so high, that they disincentive work, and so, while cutting them loses revenue, it gains back at least some from increased work.

So, if your taxes are cut, you earn a little bit more per hour worked, so you might work more. But, on the flip side, you might decide that you can actually work less to get the same income, so you might work less. That's the concept, and the question is behind the income effect and the substitution effect.

It's tough because most people can't dial up or down their work. I have a salaried job. I can't go to my boss and say, "Hey, I'd like to work 5% more hours, so please pay me 5% more."

At some level, this is certainly true. If you went from 100% taxation to 90% taxation, you'd probably get more work. But from 39.6% to 35%? That's less clear, and there isn't evidence to support it.

Reagan's own budget group, in his final year, estimated that his first round of tax cuts cut revenues by 26%. Subsequently, he raised taxes by 14%, relative to that new base.

In truth, labor is not being supplied by prime-age folks at the rate we would expect, and it's unclear why. I don't believe it's exorbitant benefits because Europe does better than we do. Here's a very long report on the decline in prime-aged male workers: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/page/files/20160620_cea_primeage_male_lfp.pdf


Q:

Who were your influences that got you hooked on wrestling ?

A:

I can't get behind trickle-down economics. It seems to me they could possibly work if you remove greed from the equation, but cutting taxes on the wealthy does nothing at all to my situation (below poverty level) and my boss just got a bit richer. A small business owner who needs seven employees to do her work is going to keep seven employees on the payroll no matter what rate her taxes are taken. Eight would just be too many, and if she can get away with paying minimum wage she certainly will.

Apple, admittedly an extreme example, has $246 billion cash on hand and 115,000 employees worldwide, yet they went to court last year over $2 million in unpaid wages for not allowing Apple store employees to take meal a rest breaks. They ultimately lost that case. Changing their tax rate will not result in higher wages, nor will it result in more people being hired. It will only result in further enriching the wealthy.


Q:

Originally, it was Bill Goldberg and DDP as I was a huge WCW fan. I would not watch WWF till way later. However, once I saw Shawn Michaels everything changed. So my biggest is definitely HBK. He is still a guy I look to as the best

A:

Supply-side is theoretically on the individual rather than business side. Conservatives will make the argument that cutting corporate taxes is good for workers because they say that economics says that any tax on corporations is ultimately borne by workers or consumers (it does say this), but I've never been sold on that because if it were true that it were 100% borne by other folks, I don't think they'd actually argue so vehemently for lower rates.

But yes, changing the after-profit tax rate isn't going to suddenly create more demand for extra workers. That is absolutely correct. And they already got to write off that extra worker's salary for purposes of taxes anyway, so the argument extra doesn't fly.


Q:

Do you refer to them as chicken tenders, chicken strips, chicken fingers, or something else?

A:

How would you incentivize the private sector to invest more in job training, like Trump seems to want. And do you think Trump will do what needs to be done to make this happen?


Q:

Whats wrong with chicken breasts? Who doesnt love breasts? ;)

A:

Businesses try to maximize the net present value of their profit, discounted to infinity (or at least the life of the current heads of the company). That is, they try to get as much profit over the period they care about. Currently, they do job training if they think it's helpful/if they need to (because there's a supply shortage, as during the dot com boom, rather than a demand shortage). A government policy that focused on that would be in changing the profit margins and thus the incentives for them. But we already let companies write off training and salaries as a business expense, so that's not it. We could pay them to do it! But then why not directly do it? The government actually has plenty of jobs training programs. Unfortunately, Trump's budget proposed to cut some of them. So, I'd be surprised, but you never know. We'll get more detail about all of his priorities in the bigger budget in May, which will go line by line through every account in the federal budget.


Q:

How much input do you have on Marty the Moth and how much of it is by the writers in Lucha Underground?

A:

In your view, what are the biggest levers the government can pull to affect 1) spending and 2) tax revenue?

For example, while there is much focus on automobile standards for mpg capabilities, the majority of gasoline is used in industry, specifically by giant tanker ships. Are there any particular taxes that if changed would have a bigger impact on the budgets than the topics people commonly discuss?


Q:

One of my biggest things I love about LU is the fact that we have an open door policy with the writing staff and Vampiro. They came up with the idea of the character and it has evolved so much since its inception. You always hear about places saying they have an open door policy but LU actually lives it. Im probably moving to Los Angeles soon and buying a house there. Im definitely going to be bugging EV Eric Vanwagnen (@EricVanWagenen) and head LU writer Chris Dejoseph (@chrisdejoseph) for a Lucha Underground house reality show. lol. **hint hint nudge nudge

A:

For taxes, the more money touched, the easier. So, consumption taxes hit everyone, and make a lot of money, but they're regressive. The raising just the top bracket will get less, but it's progressive. FWIW, we have a much more progressive tax system than most European countries, but a much, much less progressive benefit system (on net, thus being less progressive). A lot of European countries make a lot through consumption taxes and then much higher income taxes on poorer folks than we have, but then give out a lot more in benefits. That's not necessarily a bad way to do it, but people should just be aware of the politics of it.

For spending, half of our budget is just Social Security and health care, and another 16% is the military. http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/policy-basics-where-do-our-federal-tax-dollars-go

But in truth, it's a much tougher question because, excluding interest, health and Social Security are growing, and the group of "everything else" is shrinking: http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/program-spending-as-a-percent-of-gdp-historically-low-outside-social

So that poses a tough question. You can only cut the shrinking parts so much. Do you think we're currently spending the right amount per person with respect to health and Social Security? If yes, then you have to support more spending in the future because those, even outside of demographically-adjusted "excess cost growth," are set to grow for demographic reasons. If no (and you think we're spending too much), then those are the places to hit because they're the biggest.


Q:

Who is the biggest jerk backstage? This can span over everywhere you have worked. I am always curious who people hated backstage.

A:

This might be too broad of a topic but Ill give it a go anyways...

I contend that a representative govt. is almost inherently dysfunctional (to a degree) due to shifts in policy that occur every few years. Imagine a company that changes positions/focus/CEOs on a dime every few years. How can government programs succeed if down the line they get changed, reduced funding etc.?

Have you seen this happen to a significant degree or am I making too big a deal about it?


Q:

I do my best I can to try to stay away from negativity in my life in general. So i stay away from the "he said, she said, " BS that can happen in most locker rooms. Im there to do a job, entertain the believers, and have fun.

A:

I think that's certainly a very real thing, and bigger the bigger the issue is. For instance, we just that the Obamacare exchanges signed up fewer people this year than the previous year, which is the first time that has happened. It was the difference between the Obama administration pushing very hard to sign people up, and the Trump administration did not do anything. But we can see even more in enforcement of regulations. During the Bush administration, the Department of Labor scaled back on most activities, except for union busting.

I think it's pretty clear that having a single-party system would be more efficient in that changes would be done not for political reasons, there wouldn't be whipsawing of markets (as might happen with the health market - there's a reason some parts of Obamacare are still being phased in 7 years later), and there would be no one working to undermine laws. But I'm not really sure how to get around that, except with less frequent elections. And we don't want to make it toooo hard to pass laws.


Q:

Marty, first off you've seriously become one of my favorite guys on Lucha Underground. I appreciate good promo and psychology work, and you absolutely have it nailed down.

Your character has changed pretty significantly since it's debut. Can you give us some insight into the evolution of the Marty The Moth character? How much input did you have on it creatively, what did you need to change around as your character evolved, are you enjoying where the Moth is right now and do you see it as a character you can stick with for years to come?

A:

I'm curious about your thoughts on income inequality. Do you believe it is a threat to the US and Canada's economies? Thanks for doing this AMA especially with the political climate!


Q:

Actually my 1st purpose of the show was to be comedic relief. After we had that down and was getting reactions out of people, I talked with the writers of LU and Vampiro about making it darker but still funny. One of the things I love about LU is that they will actually listen and hear what the workers are saying. They still have final word but they do actually listen and give us an open door policy. I honestly think the Moth character has evolved more than any other on the roster, from a crazy wrestling fan waiting outside the Temple to what it is today. I see alot more phychological stuff I think. To me, its scarier to realize your neighbor or best friend has been killing and torturing people the whole time you knew him vs a fictional character like Jason or Freddy that cant hurt you in real life

A:

I don't personally like deep income inequality, but I don't think it's really a threat to economies that much. One thing that is pretty destabilizing is if more and more of the nation's income is through capital rather than through labor. Labor is a lot more reliable than capital, and so huge capital can allow for bigger recessions. In that sense, yes, but I don't think inequality itself is an inherent threat to the economy.

That said, interesting work from the staff of the IMF (of all places) seems to be making the case that high income inequality actually leads to lower growth (for ages, the construction was always "how much are you willing to impact growth to fight inequality?") https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2014/sdn1402.pdf

This actually makes some intuitive sense if you think about it. The more people that can actually buy stuff, the stronger the economy is. If you had an economy with 10 people, and 9 were destitute with 1 insanely rich, the rich person wouldn't need to be buying 10 microwaves. But spread that out, and you have more stuff bought.

Poorer folks have a higher propensity to spend, which is (a reason) why stimulus bills most target poorer folks. There's more money directly put right back into the economy.

But the conservative response would be, "Yeah, but the richer people invest, and that's worth all the growth." And that's why for ages the construction was always inequality versus growth. I've never bought that argument, but I'm not an economist. But we have evidence that that's likely not the case, so I guess there's that.

And, of course! It was actually what's been happening recently that finally pushed me too, along with a friend prodding me, haha.


Q:

Was your character always meant to progress the way it did or did it evolve over time?

A:

Does a "stimulus bill" actually stimulate? If so, for how long and how far does it reach? Do all sectors get a boost or just some?


Q:

I was brought in just to be comedic relief at first but thanks to some thinking and the believers, the character has evolved immensely. I started out waiting for Dario Cueto outside the Temple to where we are now. Thank you Temple BELIEVERS

A:

The idea behind a stimulus bill is that, given a shortfall in demand, it will be temporarily plugged by a commensurate increase in government spending.

The government already has a bunch of what are called "automatic stabilizers." Check out figure 4 on the second to last page: https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/workingpaper/51005-AutomaticStabilizers.pdf

These come from means-tested entitlement programs, i.e., entitlement programs that spend based on a formula, rather than a set amount determined each year, where your eligibility is based on your income. An example is Medicaid. If you lose your job and your income, you automatically become eligible. Another is unemployment insurance. (I'm happy to give more if you're curious). So, in a recession, lots of people lose their jobs, and the government automatically spends more. At the same time, because we have a progressive income tax, people pay less of their income in taxes, so they have more to spend. And in the extreme example, we give money through the tax code in refundable tax credits (the Obama stimulus bill created some of these and expanded some other ones).

As you can see from the picture, it deepened the deficit in bad times, and made it smaller in good times.

The point of a stimulus bill is to do more. So, well-targeted stimulus bills work. Ones that don't lead to more spending don't.

This isn't to say that investment isn't great, but it's not the purpose of a stimulus bill. The only way investment in a stimulus bill is "right" is if there's immediate hiring and building. This, by the way, is why all those infrastructure investment reports in 2010 showed as many jobs as they did.


Q:

What was your original gimmick suppose to be in Lucha Underground the one with Brenda?

A:

Does a "stimulus bill" actually stimulate? If so, for how long and how far does it reach? Do all sectors get a boost or just some?


Q:

Marty the Magnificent with Beautiful Brenda as my manager. You can actually see me in S1 Episode 3 as the character in some clips.<-----little known fact

A:

Haha, thank you!


Q:

Yo moth! Not sure if you're allowed to say this, how much are you informed of other characters/angles? Do they keep everyone more or less in the dark to keep reactions fresher?

If not can you give me your dream match of all time?

A:

Thank you, I understand that now.


Q:

They keep us informed of our stories if we ask. Usually we dont know who were even wrestling till the day of. Some people will ask ahead about their stories and characters but I havent really. I just make the best of what they give me which in LU is usually pretty awesome stuff they come up with

I'll answer both. I would say Stone Cold Steve Austin would be the dream match as he was my former WWE Tough Enough trainer and ......well he's Stone Cold freaking Steve Austin :)

A:

Happy to clear that up - sorry I skipped too many words before!


Q:

I just want to say you are an amazing live heel. I went to a Lucha Underground taping a few months ago and you body checked my friends and I as you were walking to the ring. It was small and subtle, but it definitely made me want to see you get your ass kicked. I still reference it to friends as one of the best subtle, live show heel moves I've ever seen.

How did you become such a good heel? Who did you study? Also, what are your thoughts on being an effective heel to the live crowd versus "for the cameras"?

A:

what is your biggest concern about Trump's budget?


Q:

Well thank you. I love psychology and what makes people do and think the way they do. So for me, I just focus on what would piss me off personally. If someone bumps me in the street and keeps walking like an ass without acknowledging it, it would piss me off so thats why I do some of the things I do while in persona. I studied great wretlers like HBK, SCSA, Fit Finlay as well as characters outside of wrestling like the Joker and many serial killers from real life. The villian in real life or in any story always has a reason for what they do, its never just to be a villian

A:

From a conceptual standpoint, it's the deep cuts to and sometimes elimination of programs that keep people out of poverty, like LIHEAP and housing programs (and of course all the programs that he didn't mention which would be due for an average cut of roughly 15%). But because it won't pass, the actual worry is that I think it sets the beginning negotiations in a really tough spot.


Q:

Creepy Bastard! How much hand do you have in the dispicable antics that Marty does? Is there something you or CDJ or anyone pitched that someone said it went to far? Lastly, what's your favorite part about playing Marty?

A:

Which do you think causes more problems. How much money is spent or how that money is spent?


Q:

I wont lie I love that chant in the Temple! lol. There has been several things pitched by both me and DJ that got scrapped for going to far. Ideas that never make it to paper or film. If it does make film and its to much they just cut it out. Did you know I used a grenade and a missile on the WMD match? Also we walked some lines with some images coming in season 3 later this year so we will see what makes air.

The best part about playing marty the moth is that I dont have to act very much, just be me! ;) It may sound strange but if you take the dirty deeds I do out and keep the persona, its really just me cranked up to 12 and taking some of societies restrictions away to make good TV

A:

Well, I approve of spending money on things that I like, so I'll definitely pick the latter. Obviously there's an upper limit - the nation can't spend more than all of it's possible income. But the US is a low-tax and low-spending nation, compared to other economically advanced countries. We could do less, but we could also do a huge amount more without even getting to the average among economically advanced countries.


Q:

Have you heard any rumblings of there being a Lucha Underground video game? I think a lot of people would be interested in the idea especially with the increased amount of eyes on LU due to the Netflix deal.

A:

Good answer, Thanks.

Follow up. Q: How do you account for value when priming the spending pumps at the center of an economy the size of the US?


Q:

I've made a bunch of rumblings about creating a video game but I know we want to make LU as successful as possible as a TV series first before branching out into other entertainment avenues. I will be the first 1 in line to get that game with you guys. Hell i'd play it with the Believers before the tapings at the Temple if they had it! Doesnt hurt to bug EV Eric Vanwagnen (@EricVanWagenen) and head LU writer Chris Dejoseph (@chrisdejoseph) about it.

A:

Thanks! How do I personally, or how does the US government?


Q:

Who right now in wrestling is one to watch out for in the future that has yet to make an impact?

A:

Personally. When writing the follow up report. What are the success markers?


Q:

Shane Strickland and Dante Fox

A:

It really depends on why we're spending the money. Just yesterday, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney was talking about the success of nutrition programs and said (incorrectly) that after-school nutrition programs weren't helping performance, and so they were failing. But sometimes we just give people food so they don't starve.

And, in fact, the government is often an entity that deliberately makes low-return investments. Roads and bridges between major areas don't need government funding to happen. But that bridge connecting those 50 people with the rest of society? That's something big. To use the Post Office as an example, NYC could run it its own independent, NYC-only post office, and stamps would be cheaper. But we have a national rate, even if you're going to Alaska. Think of how much it would cost to send stamps between places in Alaska if we had a localized stamp rate.

Anyway, this is all a long way of saying that it depends on the project. If the goal of something is to stimulate the economy, that's what you look at. If the goal is to improve test scores, that's what you look at. If the goal is to help people get jobs, that's what you look for. If the goal is just to help make people's lives less miserable, that's what you look for.

Anti-poverty programs are pretty big for me, so I assess how many people they're keeping out of poverty. I assess how much they close the poverty gap for each dollar spent.


Q:

Hi Marty, huge fan! Who in your opinion would be the best tag partner for Marty the Moth? I for one would love to see you and Dalton Castle work together.

A:

Personally. When writing the follow up report. What are the success markers?


Q:

I am pretty content and happy with my sis Mariposa (Cheerleader Melissa) However, I have said on a few podcasts that I would LOVE to work with Dalton Castle. Moth vs Peacock??

A:

I realized I misread your question! This has to be a priorities question, I think, and not one that budget wonks hold a special answer to. Economists will give one answer, and there are certainly programs that economists will agree make sense (automatic stabilizers and stimulus spending - see here: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/5zzssm/i_am_a_federal_budget_analyst_with_a_focus_in/df2ghlv/). But there's no reason that our government's goal should be maximizing economic growth at all costs. The point of growth is for that to translate into utility for people. There's no point of growing if people don't get to reap the benefits. So what about the programs that don't really help growth, but we consider necessary for civilization, like parks and some elements of the arts? So, this is why I think this ultimately becomes a values question.


Q:

What are your hobbies outside of wrestling and creeping on Sexy Star?

A:

How would one get into your line of work? Are you hiring any interns or entry level positions for newly grads?


Q:

I dont get alot of free time so if I do, its mostly doing a whole lot of nothing. Relaxing has become a hobby of mine. I am a stock broker at a brokerage firm, actor, stunt guy, voice over guy, landlord, and I own a supplement company as well. So I dont get alot of free time. If I had to choose something it would be video games or superhero shows

A:

Do you mean politics specifically, or the federal budget world?


Q:

How was it like being trained by Steve Austin on tough enough?

A:

leaning more politics but a bit of both. I was in DC this past summer and the idea of doing something bigger than myself really appealed to me!


Q:

Awesome sauce! Its Stone Cold Steve Austin! He mostly did the critiquing and perfecting but success leaves clues and if you want to learn professional wrestling thats one guy whos had the success

A:

My first job out of college was on a political campaign, which is sort of a badge of honor because everyone knows that it's terrible work that takes incredible stamina (it was 76 hours a week, not counting transportation). After that, I interned for a year, building my resume and my network, until I finally got my first permanent job (I was pretty picky, so that hurt). I am incredibly fortunate that my parents live so close to DC and were happy to support me through unpaid internships as I worked on this.

My jobs more or less randomly ended up going towards budgeting (though I did major in math). My office sadly is not hiring, and the budgeting world is actually quite small. All of OMB (which is largely the M part anyway) isn't many more than 500 people, CBO is around 235, each corner of the budget committees has only about 20 staff, and there are very few budget think tanks.

If you want to get involved in the budget world, I'd probably try for CBO or OMB.

If you want to get involved in politics generally and don't have a resume for it, it really helps to be independently wealthy or a place you can crash in the area. Otherwise, people go for the cheapest housing they can find ($600 at like the barest of minimums) and work part time while interning and lose money all the while.

I think campaigns are a good place to start because, while they pay shit, most will get the workers free housing (at least on the Democratic side), and there are always more campaigns. And beyond that, it's a great bonding experience, and people leave campaigns and go everywhere, so your network expands a lot. But it's really terrible work, with people yelling at you all the time.

I would also definitely get a USAJobs account, for sure! And sign up for the senate employment updates and the House employment listserv. And many agencies also have their own employment updates. For instance, CBO does.


Q:

How did you prepare for the WMD match with Killshot?

A:

Dead serious....where does the money go. They keep saying the US is the richest country in the world but everything seems to be old and falling apart. I am an average person and the government takes a good chunk of money out of my paychecks but I can't see the effect it has or where it seems to magicially vanish too.

Also how corrupt is the government in your opinion?


Q:

A shot of Jager and some angry music

A:

By corrupt, do you mean, like as a kleptocracy? Or just wasteful?

On where our tax dollars go, I'd start with this: http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/policy-basics-where-do-our-federal-tax-dollars-go

Half of our spending goes to Social Security and health care. Another 24 percent goes to military and vets. That's 75% right there, so if you like those things, I think it's harder to think of it as largely a waste? Another 6% is interest, which we have to pay, and another 10% is other social safety net, which leaves approximately 11% on all else.

The US has a lot of money that the federal government doesn't touch. Among economically advanced countries, we are a low-tax, low-spending country (by a lot).

I'd also say that a lot of times we don't see the effects of government. Do we see it when the Consumer Product Safety Commission makes a dangerous product illegal, and then we don't die? Or do we just notice it when the government isn't doing it's job and things go wrong? Do we see it when the USDA successfully keeps us from getting poisoned? So, I think the idea of government use is harder when talking about the remaining bit of the budget.


Q:

FYI, I liked your appearance on the Current Geek podcast a while back. Hopefully you'll be a return guest soon.

Question: How is the wrestling scene in Utah? It’s not a state that has a well-known history of wrestling on a national level.

A:

Is social security fixable for my generation (born 1990's)? If so, how? If not, why not?


Q:

I'd love to be back on. Ill probably be doing podcast interviews soon here again when my time frees up. Utah isnt a state with well-known history in wrestling. Im trying to change that. I have a promotion and school I partner with that just had its 15 year anniversary show with Rey Mysterio. Check out UCW-Zero sometime.

A:

Great question! Social Security indeed is projected to have a net liability, with the Trust Fund running out of money in 2034 (if you trust the SSA actuaries, or a little sooner if you think CBO is more correct). After that, it will begin to pay out money only as it takes it in, which would be roughly a 25% cut in benefits. So, it's definitely not going away, but due to demographic issues, unless changed, all of our benefits will be significantly lower than they would be if we don't do anything.

There are four options for dealing with it: 1) Raise taxes and put them into the SS Trust Fund 2) Cut benefits (but that's the same as letting them get automatically cut) 3) Some combination of 1 and 2 4) Dump money from the General Fund (all of our other taxes) into the SS Trust Fund, and pay benefits through deficits.

The fifth option is magic unicorn growth.

Point four might seem like a trick to you, but it's a real option. Many times when we've had to plug the Highway Trust Fund (due to issues about how we wrote the gas tax, which pays for the Highway Trust Fund and the LUST Trust Fund (fun name)), we just transferred money into it. Section 257(a) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 tells CBO to create the baseline to assume that all obligations can be met. What this means is that, even if Social Security were to be projected run out of money in the baseline, CBO would project the Trust Fund to pay out benefits as if it had all the money. CBO projects this in the creation of its deficits, off of which all estimates of how much things cost are based. In other words, deficits are projected to be "artificially high" because they assume we're already going to pay out all of our SS and Medicare benefits. That's why the statement "We're running out of money because of SS" and "We can't afford to pay SS benefits because we're running out of money" are incompatible.

So, what this means is that, deficits already assume we're spending that money, and so a bill that instructs the Treasury to put money into the SS Trust Fund is actually costless, relative to the deficits already assumed. This means there's not budget point of order against that. What's more, it means that CBO will call anything less than that a benefit cut relative to baseline assumptions. This means that the politics are even more strongly in favor of Social Security than they might otherwise be.

I do not necessarily think it's too unlikely benefits will be cut some, but, again, at max they're being cut around 25%. And I think it's entirely possible that there are no cuts when the time comes around.


Q:

Which nationality/ethnicity makes the best sausage? Gotta be the Germans, right?

A:

Oh, don't worry! At this point, my viewpoint is "explore everything and probably change my major 30000 times" so don't worry. Again, thank you so much for the detailed responses. This AMA is the most nerdy fun I've had in awhile.


Q:

I assume so. Im not a sausage guy

A:

Haha, fair enough! And of course - I'm glad you found them useful! :)


Q:

Would you rather..

A) look like Jar Jar Binks?πŸ˜‚

Or

B) talk like Jar Jar Binks? πŸ˜‚

A:

What is the reasoning behind cutting funding to the NIH? The way I see it, every dollar given to research is a well spent investment on our country's future.


Q:

I used to be able to talk like Jar Jar Binks.... damn puberty. So ill go with option C) Be Batman. Because if you have a chance to be anyone or Batman, you always be the Batman!!!

A:

I was personally surprised by the requested cuts to NIH. For a very long time, NIH has enjoyed bipartisan support. You are not the only person who supports R&D, particularly medical R&D.

I would be surprised if there is anything more than a minimal cut to NIH.


Q:

Can you explain about the wrestling acting thing and how does it work, is there like a script?

A:

Looking at current projections, where could you see the debt going to in the next four years?

Following the cuts of the EPA there were heavy opposing cries from citizens, how do the cuts of the EPA contribute positively to the government?

Was the amount of money cut really worth it?


Q:

That depends on where you go. In Lucha there is a script for the backstage segments but most places there is no script for what happens in the ring.

A:

Debt net of financial assets as a percent of GDP is projected to reach 68.2% by the end of fiscal year 2017 (which ends September 30th). By the end of FY2021, it is projected to have increased very slightly to 70.7%, after which it is projected to increase a bit more rapidly, hitting 80.5% by the end of FY2027.

These projects assume now changes to current policies - that programs that need to be reauthorized are reauthorized in the same way, that we fund discretionary appropriations at sequestration levels and adjusting for inflation afterwards, and that existing permanent programs continue to work in the way they're currently set up. This also assumes no recession.

FWIW, the EPA policy is just a request from the administration, as opposed to a cut that's been enacted. Right now, Congress hasn't agreed to the overall amount of spending they want to happen next year. After that, it will need to agree to how much spending happens on the non-defense side. After that, the budget committees will file levels setting a maximum amount of spending for each appropriations subcommittee, and after that, the subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the EPA will write a bill with funding for the EPA. If Congress agrees to that, and Trump does, only then will we know the level.

I would be very surprised if cuts even close to that deep come to fruition - among other things, because I would be immensely surprised if the 10ish% cut overall to non-defense happens. This just sets to starting point for discussions.


Q:

Your ring gear on LU, you're doing that on purpose right?

Edit: can't fucking spell at all

A:

Super late to the AMA, but are there any good books you recommend? Preferably in line with the topic at hand. Great answers, by the way!


Q:

Im having a competition with the rest of the LU roster on smallest ring gear, they dont know about it, but im winning. You are welcome

A:

Haha, that's an important caveat, or else we could have gone off in all sorts of different directions. I'm glad you've enjoyed it!

Stan Collender has a guide to the federal budget that's really quite excellent. Unfortunately, it was last updated I think in the year 2000, so some things are a little dated. https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Federal-Budget-Stanley-Collender/dp/0847684032

This CRS report by Bill Heniff is absolutely worth reading, although it's pretty dense: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/98-721.pdf

The tough thing about the federal budget is that there really are very few instruction manuals. A lot of the knowledge is passed through word of mouth and direct teaching. As I mentioned in other places, the budget world is very, very small, and much of it is very technical, and so there isn't quite as much content put out for non-budget folks.


Q:

Hey Marty!! I hear you went to high school at JD?

A:

My understanding is that before Trump's budget proposal, the USA already spends over $500 billion on the military alone.

What is the military going to do with an extra 60 billion?


Q:

You heard right. I went to Juan Diego Catholic High in Utah

A:

The specifics of where it would go aren't fully detailed, but there are always more projects that could be funded. There's always more R&D that could happen, and there are always more people we could hire. Allegedly there's a readiness gap, wherein the military feels that if we needed to deploy tens of thousands of troops immediately for a massive ground assault, folks aren't properly trained. And so funding would theoretically go towards that. And of course, higher pay is more competitive and can attract better people.

But, yes, this is a rhetorical gesture. You can tell because of how non-specific most of the DOD section in here on pages 21 and 22 of the PDF (15 and 16 of the report): https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/2018_blueprint.pdf


Q:

You mentioned that you like helping to end bullying. I feel like you position would but you in a unique circumstance to help empower and inspire younger kids to stand strong. What kind of community outreach (in persona or not) do you do to help with this issue? How would you encourage others to educate kids to resist bullying?

A:

What do you mean exactly by "currency based on debt and an economy based on infinite growth"? Are you referring to the fractional banking system or something else? It's not like USD is dependent on debt or the economy growing. Growth is good for obvious reasons and debt makes it much easier to buy homes and start businesses, but the US dollar doesn't depend on growth and debt for it's existence.


Q:

Great question. I believe that I am in a position to make an impact and empower and inspire younger kids to stay strong. I was bullied when I was younger so I remember how it feels. Ive done visits to schools and programs to speak on the subject of bullying and self confidence. I am actually looking for a good organization now on the subject to partner with in order to make a larger impact. Id love any suggestions if you have a good organization on the subject. When I speak on the matter I want to make sure that everyone knows they do not deserve to be bullied, NO ONE does! I encourage speaking with the kids on the different types of bullying so that they know what bullying is, its many forms, and its effects. If they see it, they should speak up themselves and to adults. Stand up and speak out

A:

A lot of people are into the idea that the growth is unsustainable because debt is increasing. I tend to point them to the post-war period, in which debt increased essentially every year, but shrank as a percent of GDP and we had higher per-capita growth than during the no-deficits period. http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2015/8/18/9168417/budget-deficits-growth-rate


Q:

It does, I can give you a doc that can show you. Im not really great at explaining it all since I'm not an economist or whatever so i dont want to miss anything.

Zeitgeist Addendum Its kinda long, maybe boring for some, but its very enlightening.

Essentially:

Debt: Money is built of the fractional banking system, yes, so it has built-in debt from its genesis.

Infinite Growth: Think the housing market, and any other bubble that breaks. They grow and pop. The economy is no different. However, we attempted to establish an economy that has continued growth. Capitalism running rampant. For example, a company I used to work for wanted a constant growth of 5% every year. That took a lot of resources. People especially. So eventually labor ran high as well, but proportionally. Now. When business tanks, they have to lay off people because they want the continued growth of 5%. This is a smaller echo of the bigger picture. So when sectors tank... like Oil when it runs out. What happens? The bubble pops. The party's over.

It wouldn't be a problem if the Oil kept coming, but it will end, therefore stifling a business plan that never accounted for sustainability.

Perhaps that was all rambles... Another good doc is Collapse much better with the infinite growth than i

A:

There are a lot of resources in space. But even if there's no growth, there's always human capital. And if we've gotten a lotttt of wealth at that point, and we're stuck at that point, I'm not really sure the party ends? Lots of solar energy for lots of fun.